According to the UK Council on Deafness, 1 in 6 people in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing. This week (3 – 9 May) is Deaf Awareness Week and aims to raise awareness of, and support, those who suffer with hearing problems and to promote inclusivity and equality. DAW also aims to highlight the many organisations who support deaf people.
Hugh James represents several thousand clients who suffer with noise-induced hearing loss. Many clients also suffer with tinnitus (often described as a buzzing or ringing sound in the ears). Very often, clients explain that their hearing problems mean they struggle with hearing conversations with their family, friends and colleagues at home, in social situations and in work. These hearing problems can lead to feelings of isolation and embarrassment, for example when our clients are not able to join in with conversations or have to ask people to repeat themselves. Those with tinnitus may also find that their sleep is affected, leading to feelings of tiredness or irritability.
Many of our clients also have to rely on lip reading to assist them in understanding conversations. Of course, with the pandemic and the introduction of face coverings, this has become increasingly difficult for them.
The theme for this year’s DAW is “Coming Through it Together” and so we have listed below some helpful ways in which family, friends and colleagues can try and help someone who is hard of hearing:
- Try to make sure you face the person you are speaking with at all times and try not to cover your mouth
- Speak clearly and use body language to help
- If you are part of a group, try to make sure only one person is speaking at once and try to meet in places where there will be a low level of background noise
- Be patient
If these hearing difficulties seem familiar to you or someone you know, then you are not alone.
An estimated 300,000 ex-armed forces personnel in the UK suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus. What’s more, if your hearing problems are due to long-term exposure to excessive noise while in service, you might be entitled to compensation. If you think your hearing’s suffered, you may have a case – even if you’ve previously been told you have no hearing problems or been turned down for a payment under the AFCS or War Pension schemes. Both these no-fault schemes have very strict criteria, usually resulting in smaller compensation payments.
NIHL and tinnitus caused by military equipment can be debilitating, affecting all aspects of life – yet they are avoidable. In military circles, people have known about them for decades, but many sufferers prefer to remain silent, often out of loyalty towards their regiment or the MoD. Or perhaps they feel responsible, as it was their choice to enlist. Or maybe they don’t want to admit to suffering from hearing loss.
If you’ve suffered hearing damage during your time in service – past or present – our team is ready to listen. Get in touch today.
 The Royal British Legion, Lost Voices’ report (2014)